Egg-laying by the butterfly Iphiclides podalirius (Lepidoptera, Papilionidae) on alien plants: a broadening of host range or oviposition mistakes?

Stefanescu, C., Jubany, J., Dantart, J.
2006 Animal Biodiversity and Conservation  
Iphiclides podalirius is an oligophagous butterfly which feeds on plants of the Rosaceae family. In 2002 and 2005 in NE Spain, we recorded for the first time oviposition on two alien plant species, Cotoneaster franchetii and Spiraea cantoniensis. To ascertain if this unusual behaviour represents a broadening of host range or, alternatively, an oviposition mistake, larval performance on the new plants was investigated in the laboratory and compared with performance on the most common host plants
more » ... used in the study area. Although larval performance on common hosts differed to some extent, the use of a wide range of plants of different quality at population level may in fact respond to the so-called "spreading of risk" strategy in variable environments. On the other hand, larval performance and survival to adulthood were so low on the two new hosts that our observations probably represent a case of maladaptive oviposition behaviour. This may be due to an evolutionary lag between the newly introduced plants and the insect, although other possible explanations are also taken into account.
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